Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Untold Story of Adoption

People occasionally ask for adoption updates these days and everyone keeps telling us to be hopeful, to pray, and that things will work out however they are meant to. Adam and I smile, say thanks for the encouragement, and really have been keeping to ourselves – as I am sure has become evident by the lack of blog updates about the whole situation.

I think the time has finally come to give an official “update”, but first I must back track. Bear with me.

Over the past two years, Adam and I have been asked about why we chose to follow the adoption path instead of having biological children. Most of my family knows about my struggle with Endo and PCOS as it’s something they have watched me grapple with for the past thirteen years now, and I am very grateful that they understand why we chose adoption. Having so much support behind us this whole time from family and close friends has been more valuable than words will ever express.

Almost no one knows that we did try to have biological children and suffered through two miscarriages. After the second, I told Adam that I couldn’t go through that experience again. It is something no person should ever have to suffer through and together we decided that the prospect of a third loss was too great to think about. So we made our announcement that we had decided to adopt.

Fast forward a year.

We’ve completed our home study with Department of Social Services and have been certified to not only adopt but to foster as well, in case we decided to travel that road. We were informed that if we chose to pass up on the opportunity to foster we would likely expect to wait five years for an infant to be freed for us to adopt through the foster care system. After a few months we chose to also place an application with Catholic Charities – this is where everyone's support with GoFundMe came into play. Our adoption application fee came from the gifts everyone gave to us last year. It was such a blessing to know that when we placed our application on the counter at Catholic Charities, that the gifts given to us by friends and family helped to get it there.

Two months later brings us to Thursday, November 21st, 2013. People always say the day you get “the call” is forever burned into your memory, and that no detail will ever be forgotten. I know now, that “they” are right. I remember everything in great detail.

I was stripping paint from the French doors in the living room (I believe I posted a picture to Facebook with a quote from Rehab Addict’s Nicole Curtis that day!) when the phone rang. Classical music poured out from the TV, a breeze came in through the foyer from the window I had opened to circulate in fresh air. I answered the phone and a woman from The House of The Good Shepherd was on the phone. She told me a baby had been born and was in the hospital waiting to be released to a family. His mother had signed away her rights to CPS for him, and told them she couldn’t care for him. That she wanted for him to have a family and she knew she wasn’t capable of being his parent. The woman on the phone told me that someone in the hospital had named the baby Sheldon, because everyone deserves a name. She asked if Adam and I were still looking to adopt and if we were to come down right away to discuss the situation, to sign papers for him so that we could bring him home from the hospital, either that day or first thing the next morning.

I ran so fast up the stairs to get Adam that I nearly tripped and fell, flung open the bedroom door and jumped on the bed like a child at Christmas waking their mom and dad up because Santa came. Adam looked like he thought the house was on fire. I was showered and dressed within the next five minutes, telling Adam he was taking too long and didn’t need to shave. I told him I was driving because he drove like an old woman first thing in the morning and all he asked was that I not wreck us on the way there. When we got there we were filled with such excitement and such hope, but things were not meant to be. The baby had challenges that we were unable to meet and we left with broken hearts. We had just experienced our first “failed adoption match”.

Jumping ahead twenty nine days later – also a Thursday – brings us to another day I remember in vivid detail. I got a call from someone saying they knew a girl who was pregnant and wanted to place her baby for adoption. She had met us in passing the year before and wanted to meet with us. For simplicity’s sake, and the sake of this woman’s privacy, we will call her April. We spoke with April that very day for over an hour and traded phone numbers. She told us that she wanted us to parent her baby on the condition that we could have an open adoption. We were happy to agree. Over the next three months, April and I got to know each other better as well as what our expectations were for this adoption. We got to see pictures, and I was able to get to go to an appointment. Things were progressing well and we told close friends and our immediate families. We started to buy a few clothes, and when April went into premature labor (which was able to be stopped) we picked out a travel system so that we would be ready when this baby arrived. We began the labor intensive process of stripping wood trim and doors in what would be the nursery, spent days looking at paint chips on the walls and waited as patiently as we could.

Sadly this adoption was destined to fail as well. April sent me a text just after Valentine’s Day when I was pulling in the driveway, and informed me that she didn’t think she could continue down this path because a third party was creating too many problems and it was too much stress for her. While we support April’s choice and told her we would regardless of her decision from the beginning, this is devastating to us. In some ways it is harder to heal from this than it was for the first failed adoption because we had pictures and clothes now. A car seat. A stroller. There was a baby who’s heartbeat I had heard. While the first loss was difficult, there had been no visual and no planning involved for little Sheldon.

It’s been almost two weeks now since we heard the bad news and Adam and I have realized that we are at a fork. One road leads down uncharted waters, holding who knows what. The other is the adoption path – and we have seen how difficult that road is. It’s a struggle no one ever wants to talk about because it is riddled with uncertainty, expectations and often ruined dreams. For now at least, we are standing still. We spoke with Catholic Charities and they will hold our application for as long as we need them to while we decide if we can go through the process of convincing yet another person, another agency really, that we deserve to be parents. For now, we will put adoption on hold; maybe even pretend that it’s not an option for us while we take the time we need to heal.

We have now experienced four lost babies in just less than two years’ time. I don’t know how long it will take for our hearts to repair themselves. They say time heals all wounds, but what I don’t know is how time can heal this kind of hurt. Hearing well-meaning words like “It will all work out” or “It wasn’t meant to be” don’t help, as much as we know they were well intended.

For now, we will work on remodeling our home, rehabbing the bathroom, trashing and rebuilding the kitchen. For now, we will plan a crazy vacation and maybe even do something as drastic as sell the house, move to Australia and open a Koala bear rehab facility which will inevitably go bankrupt because no one in their right mind would pay to keep a facility open for Koala’s to munch on greenery in style. For now, we will live for today and stop planning for tomorrow, because as we have seen, tomorrow may never come. Today may be all we have.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Long time no see!

Forgive me for my long break away from blogging - its been, sheesh, almost two months? Anyways, I'm sorry for the lapse in updates for those of you who look forward to it over your morning cup of coffee. (Humor me - I like to pretend people read my blogs ;)  ) In my defense, Adam and I both have been incredibly busy. For a while we had six jobs between the two of us, that alone was enough to keep me away from the computer.

During this hectic hodgepodge of working and keeping days straight, our official home study came in the mail - we're all approved! We also realized that while we do really want to start a family, foster care and fostering to adopt, are not in the cards right now. This means I'll be digging out the paperwork for Catholic Charities and having our home study sent to them to decide if they want an addendum or not. Unfortunately, this is the part that makes me cringe. Through the foster care system, our home study was free so long as we went through their fostering course, which we did because we then had plans of fostering first. Catholic Charities, if they require an addendum, can charge us fees up to $2,500. When they match us, they require a placement fee of $13,000. This means we'll be jumping back on the fundraising trail soon - that's half of my student loan debt for four years!! Crazy right?

We've also been super busy because we've started the tear down of the parts of the house that we're going to do our way. The carpets have all been torn up to reveal pretty hardwood, albeit painted black and in dire need of stripping. The green wall paneling is starting to come down which revealed a clean slate for the most part in the foyer - gray sheet rock, and some awkward peachy colored stair halls, that have been partly covered up with a white textured wall paper.

Shortly after our anniversary, we also ended up coming home with a new furbaby - yes, we are insane. Please don't ask me why we did it, we just did. My only guess is that like many people who can't have their own children, we adopt. We just happen to have found a lot of reciprocal love in the four legged, tail wagging adoptees. Anyways, we found a beautiful Shar Pei mix at the pound and seeing as how our other two dogs loved her, she came home with us. She's finally starting to get along with the two cats and she's really fitting in. So far, he only downside to having adopted her, is that I appear to be allergic to her fur and I seem to be the one she wants to cuddle with. Oddly enough, her fur gives me hives. Oh well, you win some and you lose some right? 

Well, I need to go get some coffee. I will update with pictures later.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Bad Blogger

I was thinking about all of the things I wanted to do today while the coffee was perking and I was taking care of dishes, and I realized, it's been a while since I blogged. Things have been super hectic, super crazy around here. I hardly have time to breathe anymore, much less blog regularly like I had intended. (This all seems very de-ja-vu to me right now.) Well, enough excuses. What has been going on down the street on Holland?

We have finished all of our adoption paperwork - The House of The Good Shepherd (a foster agency that helps with adoptions through our county) is just waiting on a reference to come back and then everything will be completed. Adam and I realized the other day that we have officially entered the waiting stretch of the game, and man is it hard!! Whoever said that the paperwork would be the worst part and that the waiting game would fly by was full of shit ... oh wait. That would be me. Duh.

So how have we been keeping busy, you might ask yourself. Right now, it's been a mish-mash of gardening, keeping the fur-babies well tuckered out, home improvement plans and Weightloss Weekend-ing - which I might add, I feel like I am failing miserably at. The scale refuses to budge in the right direction and my clothes are not getting any bigger. I've recently started calorie counting. I figure I'll drive myself nuts with this for a week or so and see if I can lose a pound or two. If it help's I'll keep slogging through it - if not, well, balls to that too.

On the upside of all of this, I feel like my black thumb is slowly turning green! The pink tulips I planted last year came up in out garden and look absolutely amazing until we had a crazy rainstorm about two weeks ago and pummeled half of them into pulp. I cut the rest of them and put them in a vase with some Soloman Seal, and it looked super pretty on the dining room table for about a week and a half. I even lucked out and the cats didn't try to eat my arrangement!

I'm not fabulous at flower arranging but I do love my flowers!

As I mentioned, we've also been toying with home improvement ideas. (Though I'll use the term improvement lightly!) When we bought our house, a lot of the walls and even the doors were painted this sea-foamy color green, which I kind of liked when we moved in, but is now driving me nuts - which pleases Adam immensely. Not the me going crazy part - just the part where I don't like it anymore, because he never did. We've got some plans to paint it a pretty blue called "Drizzle" by Sherwin Williams, and then rip up the carpeting on the stairs and play around with some tile back splashing on the stair fronts. 

 Smart Home 2013 Foyer 

We've also decided to move my office space down into the basement since there are plans in the *distant* future to finish that space off anyways, and we really want a third functional bedroom, especially for after we adopt. The idea of actually having a room guests (mostly Adam's closest friend, Eddy) can stay in when they visit is still really appealing. The downside right now is I'm having a hard time justifying spending any extra money on the basement when I really just want to save every dime for room decorating when we adopt and our child comes home. Needless to say I was feeling thrifty and kind of nuts not so long ago and convinced my youngest sister she really, really wanted to come help me paint down there and make it a bit more habitable. 

We started out with this...
... Please excuse my painting/crafting mess.

When we bought our house, this was immediately determined to be my new "studio" because there was a demand made on my part when Adam and I first got married - I wanted a kiln. When we were house hunting Adam remembered this and was kind enough to keep pointing out houses that could have a functional studio and room for a kiln in an extra building somewhere else on the property. He wanted a house with a kitchen neither of us were overly attached to so he could decimate it and rebuild it the way he wanted, and I wanted studio space. So I got this bad boy :) It was super darn in the basement because, well, it's a basement. Duh. So Patty and I rummaged around through the paint cans in the basement (gotta be thrifty and reuse what's left over - those dolla's gots to go to a nursery man!) and came up with a brighter color scheme for my studio. Because I'm a bit ecclectic, I didn't really care if it was a mix of color - it just needed to be brighter

And now it is.

We painted the walls a pale shade of buttery yellow and the shelves got something called "Quaint Village Green" that we've been lugging around with us since my first apartment in Ithaca. The built in table got several slaps of white, as did the window you can't really see on the left wall. Patty and I then decided, what the Hell? Here's some glitter - lets make the table sparkle - and blew it all over the white pain while it was still wet. There's not enough that it's crazy obnoxious, but just enough that it makes me crazy happy. To finish off the days worth of work, there was a roll of carpet padding under the basement stairs (Patty insisted it must have a body rolled up inside it when we first moved in) that was unrolled and flattened out in my office studio. I'll have to post some more pictures as we get everything moved downstairs and organized. I've got big plans for this baby!!

On that note, I think that's it for now. I've got some things I need to get done before Patty can be bribed with dinner, popcorn (yay her braces are gone!!) and a Grey's Anatomy marathon in exchanged for her witty sense of humor.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Actual Costs of Adopting

I know a lot of people are shocked by the actual cost of adoption - some people say that it's down right crazy. Adam and I quickly realized that we wouldn't be able to do it alone, and we really have no idea how some people do. Yay for them! Whoohooo!

We looked around at a lot of agencies and none of them really felt "right" to us so we always passed them by. You know when something just doesn't sit well in your gut and you move on? That's how all of he agencies have been for us. We heard some pretty good things about Catholic Charities and their adoption program so we made an appointment to check it out. (Thank you Eddy, for sicking by with us on this visit!) The good news about the whole orientation to the program was that they didn't charge for the initial orientation, and a lot of places do charge a few hundred dollars just to sit and talk, and before we left they gave us a breakdown of all of their costs. Not so good news? Adam and I just weren't feelin' it.

I still think that it is important to give everyone a breakdown of the costs that were shown to us though, just so that everyone can get an idea of what we are facing with this adoption. So grab your coffee and sit at a table if you think your jaw just might fall off.

Application Fee: $150
Home Study Fee: $2,500
Placement Fee*: $13,000
Searches: $50
Mileage outside of Oneida and Madison Counties: $0.50 per mile
Birth Certificate Fee: $20

*The Placement Fee is only for families with an income under $100,000 annually. If you make more than this, your placement fee is 13% of your annual household income. 

I also really feel the need to mention that our home study that is in the process of being completed won't be sufficient for Catholic Charities. They said that they would need to "make addendums" to ours and still charge for the home study. Cathlolic Charities is also in the lowest 25% quadrant when it comes to adoption fees when you base everything off of national rates, so for a lot of people, it's still a pretty good deal. For us, well, our heads are still spinning. 

Just in case you thought I was pulling your leg this morning ;)

Needless to say, it's more important than ever that our fundraising is a success, not only so that we can have a family, but so that we can help others become parents too. I can't stress it enough, if you can't donate monetarily to our fund, share your empty bottles, cans and leftover seeds with us. If you planted everything and just went to the recycling center, share your time with us at our fundraiser. If you have no free time this summer, spread the words! Share our blog, share our GoFundMe account, invite people to our event on Facebook. The bigger a success we can make this for us this year, the greater the chances are that we will be able to go bigger next year - think of all the families we could help with just a little more awareness!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Marvelous Mondays #43

Time for my first link party with Julie from This Gal Cooks!

I've been promising for a long time to let you know about our creative solutions to fast growing seedlings for our seedling sale, and seeing as the garlic was the first to need a new container, it only seems right that those little stinkers get to be featured on a DIY post! I'm basically going to turn this into a tutorial, because Adam and I have found that the more people who know what we've done, the more people want to do it themselves. Now if you plan on coming to our plant sale (and I really hope you do!) I'm begging you to hold out on doing this project yourself and come save these plants from me instead. Adam says, with good cause, that I could kill a cactus in a desert.

 I must admit, it's a pretty spiffy idea. I can't claim all the credit though - I did find a post on Pintrest (and I honestly cant remember where now, but the general idea is all over Google.) about how to get the top off of glass bottles and Adam came up with the original idea of putting the plants in. So I guess really, I'm just the biographer here.

First, you gotta have your garlic! Or, seeds. Or other started plants... you get my drift here. For our purposes, we've got garlic. Separate your cloves but don't cut anything! We take the skins off, just because I've found otherwise you run the risk of the skins molding as the plants grow. Apparently that's OK, but I've go a thing against mold. Yucky. 

Now for the fun part. You've got to have an empty glass bottle. Adam worked at a cafe for a while that allowed people to bring in their own wine, and I had him bring home all the bottles for a different project. This one became a bit more important simply because the garlic was starting to get root bound in their little plastic Jiffy pots and no longer fit in their plastic green houses, which in turn caused problems for other, slower growing plants that the cats seemed to think were super tasty. I'll make an actual tutorial complete with pictures for removing the tops another time, but I'll run through it all quick right now for a fair assessment. 

To remove the tops, you need yarn, acetone based nail polish remover, a full kitchen sink of cold water and a lighter, as well as the obvious bottle. Make sure the sink is full enough to submerge the bottle and fill a small bowl with the nail polish remover. We've found that the Equate brand works well, but the Up and Up brand is kind of sucky. It also has to be acetone based. Don't ask me why - I don't know. I just know it needs to be, which is fine because I was worried enough as it was about blowing up the kitchen and I didn't want to experiment outside of everyone elses parameters in my own space and run the risk of meeting the fire department. Anywho, tie off a circle of yarn thats big enough to go around the bottle where you want it to separate and then soak that in the polish remover and put it back on the bottle. My advice right here is to quickly wipe off and remover that may have dripped on the counter or down the bottle as well as on your hands. Light the string and tip the bottle so that the mouth is down and slowly rotate the bottle in circles, allowing the fire to fully circle it. Just before the fire extinguishes itself, submerge it in the water. You should hear a pop and a tinking sound, which will be the top popping off and the glass cooling. 

You can do this with any bottle, but again, we have wine bottles on hand here. 

You're going to need to sand down the new rim of the bottle at this point so you don't don't cut yourself. Any sandpaper sheet will do. It doesn't take too long - just make sure you do it over a garbage can or something to catch all of the glass dust and be careful not to breathe it in or run your eyes. (That could really put a damper on this whole project.)

Obviously the next part is the the last one - planting! We took our potting soil and mixed it with water in a plastic grocery bag first to make sure everything was well dampened. Because we didn't drill drainage holes in the bottles (that a whole other mess, I mean project, we really didn't wan to get into with our precious bottle planters.) we really wanted to make sure that the dirt was wet so the roots would be able to grow and sustain a happy plant. We filled the new container up about an inch or so shy of the top with our now wet potting soil and stuffed the garlic clove down in until it was halfway covered. Now the work it done! All it took after this is checking up on the container to make sure the top layer of soil was still damp and if it wasn't, a splash of water cured the problem. Because everything was dampened before hand, the rest of the dirt below the top layer stays that way and we don't need to worry too much. 


Happy planting! Please link back and let me know how your adventures have turned out!